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J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Aug 6;62(31):7652-70. doi: 10.1021/jf5023862. Epub 2014 Jul 24.

Chemistry and multibeneficial bioactivities of carvacrol (4-isopropyl-2-methylphenol), a component of essential oils produced by aromatic plants and spices.

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Western Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service , U.S. Department of Agriculture, Albany, California 94710, United States.


Aromatic plants produce organic compounds that may be involved in the defense of plants against phytopathogenic insects, bacteria, fungi, and viruses. One of these compounds, called carvacrol, which is found in high concentrations in essential oils such as oregano, has been reported to exhibit numerous bioactivities in cells and animals. This integrated overview surveys and interprets our present knowledge of the chemistry and analysis of carvacrol and its beneficial bioactivities. These activities include its antioxidative properties in food (e.g., lard, sunflower oil) and in vivo and the inhibition of foodborne and human antibiotic-susceptible and antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria, viruses, pathogenic fungi and parasites, and insects in vitro and in human foods (e.g., apple juice, eggs, leafy greens, meat and poultry products, milk, oysters) and food animal feeds and wastes. Also covered are inhibitions of microbial and fungal toxin production and the anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiarthritic, antiallergic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, cardioprotective, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective properties of carvacrol as well as metabolic, synergistic, and mechanistic aspects. Areas for future research are also suggested. The collated information and suggested research might contribute to a better understanding of agronomical, biosynthetic, chemical, physiological, and cellular mechanisms of the described health-promoting effects of carvacrol, and facilitate and guide further studies needed to optimize the use of carvacrol as a multifunctional food in pure and encapsulated forms, in edible antimicrobial films, and in combination with plant-derived and medical antibiotics to help prevent or treat animal and human diseases.

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